Yes, it has helped, and no, it didn't. I have Office/Outlook 2003, so the options were not applicable, only for older versions, 2000 and 98. It did not mention 2002 or 2003.
But in reading the descriptions, it forced me back to review my own settings and it appears the Microsoft has an option under the .Net Passport structure that allows this for Outlook 2003, maybe earlier versions as well but I do not know.
There is a Free/Busy option for Outlook 2003, go to:
Provided that you have an account, or are willing to set up a .Net Passport account, you can set up Outlook to share Calendar (and some other) information with either "ALL" .Net users or user of your choice (obviously the better of the two choices).
After making a minor change in Outlook:
Tools > Options > Calendar Options > Free/Busy Options > (select) Publish and search using Microsoft Office Free/Busy service
According to the web set, only users that are authorized are allowed to exchange calendar (and contacts and/or tasks) information.
So far it appears to be working, but we'll see what happens over the next week and we sync up our calendars.
Thanks for the help, it was useful and got me going in the right direction.